CUT FROM THE SAME CLOTH

AMERICAN WOMEN OF MYTH, LEGEND, AND TALL TALE

A frequent author retells old stories and, in effect, fashions new ones to fill a void that—he says in his preface—he deplores. Arranged geographically from northeast to west (including Alaska and Hawaii), these 15 tales of clever, strong- willed, or larger-than-life women represent several cultures- -Anglo-, Native-, African-, and Mexican-American. Introductory remarks discuss locale or culture or note parallels in world folklore. The results are entertaining and often tellable. Yet San Souci alters stories to suit his purpose: e.g., the woman he calls ``Old Sally Cato'' is unnamed in his Missouri source, while the male giant she kills was ``Bally Sally Cato''; even the African-American connection seems tenuous. Compared to one cited source, ``Annie Christmas'' is cleaned up almost beyond recognition. Neither is the subtitle quite accurate: two protagonists are sisters under the fur. And while the animal tales enhance ethnicity (``Sister Fox...'' is the only Mexican American tale), they have a mean-spirited tone not found in the others. Detailed notes give clues to how much San Souci has embellished, rather than ``collected,'' here; Pinkney's handsome b&w scratchboard illustrations and a spacious layout give the book a distinguished look. As they stand, the stories are useful; but it would be more honest to explain the rationale for the substantial revisions. Brief introduction by Jane Yolen; map; bibliography. (Folklore. 8+)

Pub Date: April 21, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-21987-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.

HOW TÍA LOLA CAME TO (VISIT) STAY

From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

Renowned Latin American writer Alvarez has created another story about cultural identity, but this time the primary character is 11-year-old Miguel Guzmán. 

When Tía Lola arrives to help the family, Miguel and his hermana, Juanita, have just moved from New York City to Vermont with their recently divorced mother. The last thing Miguel wants, as he's trying to fit into a predominantly white community, is a flamboyant aunt who doesn't speak a word of English. Tía Lola, however, knows a language that defies words; she quickly charms and befriends all the neighbors. She can also cook exotic food, dance (anywhere, anytime), plan fun parties, and tell enchanting stories. Eventually, Tía Lola and the children swap English and Spanish ejercicios, but the true lesson is "mutual understanding." Peppered with Spanish words and phrases, Alvarez makes the reader as much a part of the "language" lessons as the characters. This story seamlessly weaves two culturaswhile letting each remain intact, just as Miguel is learning to do with his own life. Like all good stories, this one incorporates a lesson just subtle enough that readers will forget they're being taught, but in the end will understand themselves, and others, a little better, regardless of la lengua nativa—the mother tongue.

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80215-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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